treatment for focal and embouchure dystonia

Help for focal dystonia 
Help for Musicians Focal Dystonia (5 sessions)

Treatment for Focal and Embouchure Dystonia (a 5 session programme)
North London Stress Management Centre.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8444 4871
London Muswell Hill N10 and London Islington N1 centres
FREE OF CHARGE INITIAL CONSULTATION. No obligation to book further sessions.
1:1 in-person sessions or online LIVE with Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp.
Telephone sessions are also available 

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Help for focal and embouchure dystonia

North London Stress Management Centre.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8444 4871 
Session times to suit local hours - 24 hour service for international clients

A message from NLSMC to all musicians, actors, artists and
creative thinkers in a time of crisis:

We cannot be silenced. Music and theatre and art has not been taken from us. The virus will not cause us to fade. We will emerge stronger and more creative and more innovative than ever. We do not know when we will return to any semblance of "normality". We do not even know if we will still desire what we had before. But we can take comfort in the knowledge that new ways of performing, of expressing and delivering our messages are already happening. Desperate hope will, before not too long, turn into an exciting and inspiring frontier where we will learn to grow and become more free and happier than we have ever been and nobody or no-thing can take this from us. The new world we are about to enter will need less industrialists and bankers and politicians and more artists, and dancers and poets and musicians and lovers and healers. This is the world we look forward to. 

Focal Dystonia


One of the principal fears that many musicians have is to suddenly discover that they can no longer physically play their chosen instrument. Though the majority will never have to suffer this scenario, and can safely place their fears in the realm of unnecessary paranoia, for up to 5% of the musical population, it is an actual reality. After many years of playing, the guitarist can no longer hold the strings down on the fret when playing a particular solo, the trombonist finds it impossible to form a perfect embouchure, the pianist finds that her fingers in one or both hands start inexplicably curling outwards, the drummer can no longer hold a stick in his hand when attempting a simple buzz role. It can be a gradual deterioration or a sudden occurrence. However it manifests itself, the results are always the same: stress, anxiety, panic and desperation.

The most common cause is a condition known as Focal Dystonia, which is broadly defined as a neurological disorder that affects a muscle or group of muscles in a part of the body, causing involuntary contraction or twisting. It is generally task-specific and manifests itself as a loss of voluntary motor control in extensively trained movements. This means that the musician may be able to continue to play certain pieces without difficulty, but discovers that a particular piece of music that was once easy to play has now become an impossibility. In extreme cases, the musician can no longer play any piece of music and simply retires from the profession. Some devote years adapting their playing. New Age guitarist Billy McLaughlin, as a result of contracting Focal Dystonia, taught himself to play left-handed. The pianist Gary Graffman performs exclusively with his left hand. Others, such as Warren Deck, former principal tuba player of the New York Philharmonic and guitarist Liona Boyd have abandoned their careers entirely.

treatment for focal dystonia 
Most of the information available on Focal Dystonia makes depressing reading. The general consensus is that there is no cure. There are treatments available, such as Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injections which target specific symptoms of the affliction but are not effective as an overall cure. We at the North London Stress Management Centre (NLSMC) emphatically disagree with the “no cure” argument and instead look to others who have successfully overcome, and have taught many musicians to overcome, what we believe to be an emotional, psychological and therefore completely curable condition. Overcoming Focal Dystonia can be a difficult process. The general consensus of those who subscribe to the theory of emotional recovery is that musicians affected by the condition will have to work hard to re-establish the right psychological patterns responsible and that tenacious willpower and systematic work will be needed to get results.

We at NLSMC, whilst agreeing that the process is by no means easy and that a fair deal of commitment will be required before a significant improvement in the condition becomes apparent, differ greatly in terms of timescales and application for treating Focal Dystonia. Our belief is that with the use (principally) of Hypnotherapy, afflicted musicians will see substantial improvements in their condition in a much shorter period than if they adopted a purely talking-psychological approach. We have helped musicians look for the real trigger of their condition, which in most cases is not the particular happening or incident that they themselves identify when they first visit us. Whilst this is of some importance, discovering the trigger is only the very beginning of the journey to recovery.

Far more important are the exercises and techniques we relay to sufferers and in particular, the major impact that accessing the subconscious mind, via hypnosis, has in the healing process. Hypnotherapy takes a central role by removing the dystonic identity and the associated negative, undesirable and damaging influences that have (to various degrees dependant on the individual) taken hold. To find out exactly how this process will work for you, please go to the Hypnotherapy section of this website.

As musicians ourselves, we fully understand the devastation that Focal Dystonia can cause. Equally, we know we can be effective in helping you on the road to recovery.


This is a five-session programme. Each session is one-hour in duration, held usually on a weekly or fortnightly basis.The cost is £80 UKS per session on a Pay As You Go basis. To help struggling musicians in these difficult times, discounts are available on request. The price is inclusive of the one-hour sessions, numerous pdf documents relaying the techniques demonstrated and 3 x specific, tailored studio-quality recordings to be listened to between sessions.

If you would like to book a FREE Initial Consultation, please feel free to contact us.

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North London Stress Management Centre (NLSMC) therapists are British Association for Performing Arts Medicine registered practitioners. NLSMC is a member of the National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists, a UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) member.